TRENTON, N.J. – In the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee today, Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney spoke on behalf of his bill (A4800) commemorating New Jersey’s state animal on a special license plate to support the health and well-being of horses as well as therapeutic riding programs for veterans and individuals with special needs.
“The monies generated for this plate will first recognize the horse. Secondly, the money will then go on to therapeutic riding for special needs. Lastly, the monies generated will also be used to help our veterans. When they work around a horse — petting the horse, brushing the horse — that has a calming effect on not only the special needs young adults, but also on our veterans,” said Rooney (R-Bergen).
New Jersey has more horses per capita than any other state in the nation. Horses are used for racing, breeding, showing, horseback riding and, more recently, therapy for children and adults with special needs as well as veterans.
Therapeutic riding is an equine-assisted activity that improves a person’s balance, flexibility, coordination, and muscle strength. People benefit cognitively, physically, emotionally and socially. For military veterans, it helps reduce post-traumatic stress disorder and depression symptoms. The therapy has also shown to be effective for people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, learning disabilities, trauma and brain injuries.
Motorists interested in obtaining the state animal license plate through the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission would pay a $50 application fee and a $10 renewal fee.
The committee unanimously passed the bill and it will now go to the Senate for consideration.